OLG launching online gambling site
Toronto Sun Files
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TORONTO — Ontario will launch its long-awaited Internet gaming site within weeks.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) issued an invitation to 53,000 loyal customers Tuesday, offering them a sneak peak at PlayOLG before it opens to the general public.
OLG spokesman Tony Bitoni said players will be able to try their hand at a variety of video slot games, blackjack, baccarat and roulette.
The site will also allow Ontarians to buy lottery tickets online — for Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max games.
Poker enthusiasts will have to settle for single player games to start.
“(You) can’t play with other people around the country,” Bitoni said. “The peer-to-peer poker will come online in the next phase.”
Sports games and bingo are also possible future additions to the site, he said.
Eligible members of the OLG’s Winner’s Circle Reward program will be invited to preview and play the site as part of a phased-in approach, Bitoni said.
“You can’t play on it right now but that’s coming in the coming weeks,” Bitoni said.
Players will have to register to verify their identity and age, and payments will be made through credit cards.
Online gamblers can set limits on their gaming, including how much they’re prepared to lose with a seven day “cooling off” period before that amount can be increased.
Problem gamblers will be given the option to exclude themselves from playing the online games.
“Responsible gambling is for us a priority, and it is definitely a priority on PlayOLG,” Bitoni said. “You can tell us how long you want to play.”
The OLG estimates that 500,000 Ontario residents spend $400 million-$500 million a year on unregulated out-of-province Internet gambling, Bitoni said.
“And what we’re offering is a controlled, trust-worthy alternative to these grey market sites,” he said. “When we did our market research, trust was one of the big things that people told us about, that they really wanted in these sites.”
There are no assurances that a player will be paid with the off-shore sites, he said.
“There are some high profile sites that did crash and burn,” he said.
OLG is in the midst of an on-going modernization and online gaming has been a goal for several years as traditional casinos face falling profits.
British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and all the Atlantic provinces already provide regulated Internet gaming.
OLG had initially planned to launch online gaming in early 2012.